As the world turns (or, not like father, like son)

Spring one day, summer the next

Spring one day, summer the next

The tour I’ll be a part of (leaving June 20) will be in St. Petersburg (Russia, not Florida) on The 4th of July.

Perhaps more interesting than being in Russia on The 4th of July is the timing of our departure for Europe. When we leave Dallas, it will be spring. When we arrive in Stockholm, it will be summer. The longest day of the year will be the first day we are in Europe. Did our fearless leader set this calendar on purpose?

In Stockholm, summer officially begins at 7:03:25AM on June 21. Sunrise is at 3:30AM and sunset at 10:08PM. The duration of daylight is 18 hours, 38 minutes, and 6 seconds.

In dark Dallas, sunrise on June 21 will be at 6:22AM and sunset at 8:25PM. The duration of daylight is a paltry 14 hours, 3 minutes, and 33 seconds.

On Friday, July 5, our ground transportation to the St. Petersburg airport for our return trip will fetch us at 3:00AM. Some of the folks in our group are already worried about being awake at that time of day. They are making jokes about staying up all night. “Never worry,” is what I would tell them. Sunset in St. Petersburg on The 4th of July is at 11:20PM (when will they have their fireworks?). Daylight on the 4th will last for 18 hours, 34 minutes, and 44 seconds.  Sunrise on the 5th is 4:46AM. It won’t be so hard to be up at 3AM. Dawn will already be breaking in the east. Of course, twilight will have hardly faded before dawn begins.

The land of the midnight sun? Close to it.

Holidays were Important Events in my family. Christmas, The 4th of July, Easter, and the five birthdays in our immediate family were always great celebrations.

Where will they have their fireworks?

Where will they have their fireworks?

I was thinking about Father’s Day yesterday. I hadn’t given it much thought—my father died September 21, 2011, and I am not a father. And then I heard “Think” on KERA yesterday. The description of the show from the KERA website is

How can our experiences with love and sex inform our positions on gay marriage, religion and other public issues? We’ll find out this hour with advice columnist Dan Savage. His new book is American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics (Dutton, 2013).

Dan Savage is an important voice for LGBT issues. In his interview with Krys Boyd he explained in a way I had never heard (or never paid attention to) the relationships between gay men and our fathers. He said that too close relationships with one’s mother and distant relationships with one’s father do not cause a kid to be gay. They are the result. Fathers sense their sons are gay and do not know how to relate to them, so a distant relationship develops.

I think that explains a great deal about my relationship with my father. However, I must be adamant that he never rejected me. He simply didn’t know how to relate to me until I was an adult and we worked very hard at creating a father/son bond that strengthened as the years passed. I was with him when he died (my siblings would have been there if it had been possible). He had been virtually unconscious for several days. However, I know without doubt that he knew I was there.

As so often happens, the connection between my opening thinking and the point I ultimately want to make is tenuous at best. I was thinking about celebrating The 4th of July in Russia of all places.

That reminded me of my favorite 4th of July memory from my childhood. Our family saw the aurora borealis from our front yard in Scottsbluff. Dad was driving, and we were returning from a disappointing fireworks display. Dad was the first to see the Northern Lights, and he helped us make sense of the wonder.

Remembering that experience led me to many memories of learning about the natural world from my father. Departing on an airplane in spring and landing in summer would have given him no end of pleasure. His explanation of “equinox” when I was very young is the one I remember the clearest. I could tell about camping trips to Colorado, excursions to the Big Horns in Wyoming, hikes in the Wildcat Hills of Western Nebraska, and more.

Don’t try to follow my logic here. There is none. Simply anticipations on the one hand, and memories on the other.

And a slight pre-Father’s Day homage to my father.

The photo below is of my parents and my sister and her late husband. He, too, was a father who helped his daughters to understand the natural world. He helped all of us to understand. I honor the memory of these two fathers. I should wait two days. But why?

Fathers

Fathers

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